Bassmaster season resumes

The Bassmaster Elite Series season resumed last week down at Lake Eufaula, Alabama. With some help from the folks at Bassmaster and US Customs and Border Protection, I and the Johnston brothers from Peterborough were granted permission to travel to the United States last week to compete in the event.
Since fishing in these events is our main source of income and our livelihood we were eligible to go across. It took many years for us to get to fish at this level so we were very thankful to get to go back to work during these difficult times. I have since returned home after the tournament. I am quarantining by myself for two weeks.
Bassmaster ran the event like a regular tournament with some very strict social distancing guidelines, everybody had to wear a mask and there was no fan engagement. Outside of that it felt like a regular day of fishing for us. I drove down, stayed in a house I rented on the lake for the week, fished for five days and came back home.
Back in 2015 I had my first top ten finish in a pro-level tournament at Lake Eufaula. I finished 5th in that tournament and had chances to win with some of the fish that escaped before they made it into the boat. This would be my first time returning to the lake so I was excited to get back after having a good event last time. I caught them in that tournament on a topwater popper, which is a bait I use a lot around home but haven’t had a lot of success with out on the road.
My first day of practice, I fished a few of the stretches that were good to me last time and saw some nice fish again so I was happy about that. In the south, a lot of the bass go to deeper water in the summer because it gets so hot down there. For that reason I was a little bit cautious about these shallow bass before the tournament and spent most of my time looking for bass offshore in deeper water.
I ended up finding a few schools of fish in deeper water to go with the shallow program I had so I felt pretty good heading into the tournament. We have a random draw for boat numbers the night before our tournaments start and I felt pretty lucky to get drawn boat eight the first day in the 87 angler field. I would have a good chance at getting on one of the deeper schools I found first thing in the morning.
I made it to the spot I wanted to get on first thing and even had one of the top local anglers that I was fishing against try to get on it as well but after about 20 minutes without a bite I drove around with my electronics to try and find where the fish had relocated to. There were a bunch of them there so they had to be around somewhere. I pulled up there thinking I would catch one on my first cast and get a good limit fairly quick so it was a disappointing start. By the time I left that spot without catching any fish and ran down the lake, the other deeper spots I had found all had boats sitting on them so I decided I would fish shallow and catch what I could.
I ended up having a pretty solid first day, with 17-8 for five fish, landing me in 34th spot. The goal is to make the top 40 to fish the third day and earn some extra money. On day two I had a similar start to my day but failed to catch as much weight as I did up shallow on the first day. Overall the weights went down quite a bit and my limit for 13-10 put me in 43rd place just missing the cut to fish the third day. It was disappointing for sure but I still managed to make a few bucks and avoided a bomb finish. Points wise, this was not terrible.
It felt really good to get back on tour last week, to see my buddies and to compete. The schedule turns north for the next several events later in July and August so I welcome that. We resume the season again in mid-July at Lake Cayuga in New York, where I got a second place finish last year, followed by the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain. These are three of the best bass fisheries in North America so I’m looking forward to fishing at these venues.